The first chills of autumn were curling around my toes, and it was lovely. I was barefoot on the sidewalk and still in my pajamas, and the best part was that the air smelled fresh like a forest.
Our group had just pulled into a parking spot in front of a small hotel in a valley from a fairy tale. Sara, Courtney, and Teia jumped out and inspected the grounds while Leandra and I talked to the front desk with the other two hanging out behind us.
"I hope you girls won't be bothered by the convention," the lady at the front desk said as she eyed my ancient t-shirt, which had a red hand print creeping over my shoulder.
"There's a place for a convention here?" I asked. I hadn't seen any signs of a large convention center on our way into town. Maybe it was on the other side of something?
"Oh, they just built it! It's a lovely building, too; looks just like a big church," she said. "Shouldn't bother you, though, I think it's mostly young people down here."
Leandra and I exchanged looks and shrugged, and then we gathered everybody and dropped our stuff off in our rooms. The beds went from pristine to upset in a matter of three seconds. Bags were zipping and unzipping all along the line of rooms, which were connected now by unlocked and open doors. Everyone freshened up while I put on some real clothes, and we went out hiking and exploring the town after lunch.
When we got back just before dinner time, our rooms were in an even greater mess than we had left them. Sara tapped me on the shoulder while I was staring, open-mouthed, at the contents of my duffel, which had all been pulled inside-out and dumped on the floor.
"My hoodie is covered in cat hair," she said when I looked at her. I would have laughed, but she had been wearing the hoodie earlier, and it hadn't been covered in fur that morning. Similar reports came from the other rooms. Ava and Natalie were so mad that they stormed out and went to confront the front desk lady. Courtney sat on the side of the bed and then stood up right away.
"Ow! Something poked me!" she yelled. The rest of us watched as she flung the covers off and revealed a rather impressive arrangement of knives under the covers. They were pointing blade up. We all were staring at the bed, trying to figure out how the knives had gotten there, when Natalie fell through the door, pulling Ava through after her. Both girls had thin streams of blood running from small cuts all over their arms, and they were soaking wet.
"Natalie!" I said. "What happened?"
"She tried to kill us!" Natalie gasped. She and Ava were on the floor, wheezing as they tried to catch their breath. Suddenly Natalie sat up, pointed at the door, and screamed, "Shut the door!" Teia reached over and slammed it shut with one arm.
"Are you alright?" Leandra asked Ava. She put her finger tentatively on one of the scratches on her sister's arm, to see how deep it was.
"We're ok," Ava said as she glanced at Natalie, who nodded. It was hard to look at them with so much blood trickling out of their tiny wounds. I sat on my feet in front of them, and everyone rallied behind me so we all could see their faces. Ava was still breathing hard, but Natalie had finally gotten control of herself.
"We went down and asked who'd had the audacity to mess with all of our stuff," Natalie said. "And the old lady just looked at us, stiffened, and screamed at us. So we started backing up, you know? We said we'd come back later." She wiped her nose and left a red smear on her cheekbone. "But when we were walking away she threw something at us."
"What'd she throw? Ninja stars?" Teia asked. I turned to glare at her, and she shrugged. "What?" I shook my head and turned back around.
"No, she didn't throw ninja stars," Ava said. She looked at Nat with wide eyes. Natalie looked terrified. "She threw her cats at us."
The other five of us chuckled until we realized that they were perfectly serious. Courtney took in the myriad of red cuts on their arms and said, "Wait. So...what you're saying is, you were attacked by cats?"
Ava and Natalie nodded. We were silent.
"But why are you wet?" Sara asked.
"We jumped in the pool," Natalie said. For the first time since she'd fallen through the door she looked slightly happy. "And then we got out of the pool."
"What happened to the cats?"
"They didn't get out, we're pretty sure," Natalie said. A moment later, something large thumped on the window. All seven of us practically jumped out of our skins, and Courtney leaned close to the glass to see what it was.
"Hey, guys?" she asked. "By any chance, were there more than two cats?"
"No," said Ava. "Why?"
"Because there are two very wet cats and about sixty very dry cats hissing at our front door," Courtney said. I pushed myself up off of the floor and joined her by the window. Sure enough, there was a legion of angry felines crowded around our door. I spun around and looked at everyone else, not sure if I should be laughing or screaming.
"Did anyone bring a gun?"